As Hurricane Irene approached Suffolk, County Executive Steve Levy warned residents in the mandatory evacuation zones to get out now.
"Folks have to understand that once winds pick up beyond 50 miles per hour, there is no one coming to your home," Levy warned during a Saturday afternoon press conference at Brentwood High School. "If you're not leaving for your own sake, leave for the sake of your community and neighbors. We don't want to worry about going into evacuation zones to rescue people, don't make things any harder on our first responders."
Levy said there are some 19 shelters open Suffolk County so far, half of which are run by the American Red Cross shelters with the others operated by townships.
"So far we have around 250 individuals in shelters, and we expect that number to increase exponentially," he said.
Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, who joined Levy at the press conference, said Town officials are going door to door in an effort to warn people.
"Hurricane Gloria went through Long Island in an hour, and that was during low tide,” he said. “This storm is going to be on mostly high tides, which is an amazingly large difference."
A pet shelter has been established across from Brentwood High School at the Brentwood Recreational Center, and special needs centers are open at Sachem East High School and in Hampton Bays. Those who are on respirators and have significant medial needs are advised to look into special needs shelters.
The shelter at Brentwood High School is being run by Tambi Jenkins, Regional Administrator for American Red Cross in Babylon and Islip. The shelter has been open since Thursday, and will remain open until it is safe to return home, officials said.
The Red Cross is providing food, water, comfort kits disaster and mental health services. A nurse is also on staff.